If you love Italian food as much as I do (and who doesn’t) you’ll be glad to know that there is a new destination for all foodies who want extraordinary food and that destination is Mercato Metropolitano in London’s Elephant & Castle (or SoBo – South of Borough – if you insist). The focus is on Italian food, but you are equally well catered for with food stalls selling Japanese, Argentinian, British, French, Spanish and Vietnamese food.
Mercato Metropolitano London is a food market with a difference. The brain child of economist Andrea Rasca, it is the first site to open ouside Italy and its values are craftsmanship, sustainability, urban renewal, good honest artisan food and real passion with the aim to empower small producers, farmers and artisans through dedicated spaces designed to share an appreciation of excellent food. Located in and around an old paper factory in the Borough Triangle the market spreads over 45,000 square feet and has several indoor as well as outdoor areas with over 1,000 seats. There are workshops, cookery demos, talks and cultural events planned for both local schools and the wider public. People can learn about urban gardening or meet producers and the whole project is based on a sustainable economic model that is socially responsible and will contribute positively to the local community. There is also a branch of the hugely popular Backyard Cinema, and, coming soon, a boxing gym and MAXX, a bright, relaxed co-working space overlooking London’s skyline.
For me – and this is something that will bring me back to SE1 time and time again – one of the most exciting things of MM is Prezzemolo, one of the best fresh supermarkets I have ever seen. It’s independent and family owned with its origin in Palermo, Sicily. Over 4,000 sq ft of the best food Southern Italy has to offer: everything from the most amazing selection of Italian cheeses, cold meats & salami, fresh Calabrian & Sicilian sausages, wine & beer, bread (who knew there are so many different kind of bread sticks?), fresh & dried pasta, risotto rice, sweets & chocolates, sauces & condiments, fruit & vegetables, and much, much more. There is a whole food cart dedicated to the almighty truffle and a fantastic delicatessen counter selling hot and cold meals you can eat right there in the shop or take home with you.
Hopefully we’ll have a long warm and sunny Indian summer, so you can have a coffee or cocktail from one of the stalls in the garden area or you could try one of the delicious arranci (deep fried filled rice balls) from the Sicilian street food truck or cold cuts & cheese from the Miccone truck from Pavia, sitting under a huge canopy looking up at the cotton wool clouds and blue origami cranes.
Indoors you find a wonderful array of food and drink outlets: Pizza Napoletana, the ‘best pizza maker from Naples’, an artisan gelateria, Italian sausages in a bap, Manuelina Focaccia with wonderful regional breads, a Lateria mozzarella bar where I watched fresh burrata being made, Cicchetti Italian tapas, Tortellino’s fresh pasta, Italian fried fish, Tonneria, Piadina, Mac ‘n Run, Champagne & Fromage, Brew Tap Burger, an Argentinian Grill, Spanish tapas, bbq meats, Vietnamese and Japanese, as well as gluten free and vegetarian foods. There are bars serving cocktails and draft craft beer, somewhere for a caffeine fix, a juice bar and Enoteca, a wine bar which has an enormous selection of wines to taste, drink or buy. And, of course, there is the Backyard Cinema and even a book stall selling cookery books.
For the official opening night on Thursday, 15th of September, guest were treated to performances by the wonderful Broken Swing Band with the silky voice of Rikette Genesis singing old favourites like ‘Puttin’ on the Ritz’, ‘Blue Moon’, ‘Jeepers Creepers’ & ‘Ain’t Misbehavin’’ and high energetic dance performances from members of Swing Patrol, a dance school with branches all over London that’ll teach you to Lindy Hop with the best of them.
And to top it all off the evening ended with a bang – fantastic fireworks!
Now, I can’t promise you fireworks for when you visit, but I can promise you great food and a fantastic atmosphere.
42 Newington Causeway
London SE1 6DR